Today's announcement from President Obama on the future in Iraq is encouraging. Removing roughly 100,000 troops from Iraq while leaving residual training and specialized forces is a huge step toward winding down the war. Those of us who served in Iraq have fought for this for years. We commend President Obama for having the clarity of vision to do what is right, and follow through with his promise to begin the process of redeploying from Iraq.
It goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway: The war in Iraq was one that should have never been waged, and one which led to years of lost opportunity in Afghanistan, billions of dollars wasted, a tarnished reputation around the world, and thousands of young American lives tragically lost. It made America less safe, and decimated our military. It is the main reason that VoteVets.org was formed. It's the reason that we've spent millions of dollars over the past few years to push policymakers to redeploy, not escalate, in Iraq.
Now, getting out of Iraq won't be quick, and it won't be easy. In many ways, it's tougher to get out of a war, than it is to get into it. As we leave, there may be casualties, and if there are, there's always the temptation to send forces back in.
But, the President must not give in to any temptation if that time comes. President Obama must continue this direction in Iraq, with the ultimate goal of having all troops out of Iraq by the end of 2011, or earlier, as agreed to in the Status of Forces Agreement with the Iraqi government.
If President Obama does continue to draw down - and we believe he will - we will be more secure, and our military will now have a chance to repair the damage done to it by the previous administration.